Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA
Good question, Bob. I wish I were knowledgeable enough about oil spills to offer advice.
My opinion, which should come as no surprise to you, is that Obama has dropped the ball and is floundering. He said at the beginning that the government was on top of it and BP was under their command. When a quick solution was not forthcoming that story changed. Government response was extremely slow. Jindal put in a request for 26 sand booms and waited three weeks for a response which, when it came, authorized six and made the point of telling him Louisiana would have to pay for five of them. When public furor demanded some action, Obama responded with a suspension of all oil drilling, which made no sense, having nothing to do with anything. When public furor over the suspension of drilling, due to jobs lost, Obama reversed it. He is showing he has no idea what to do and is simply going on knee-jerk reactions. His lack of experience in both business and leadership is becoming more obvious.
He would not meet with the BP CEO, claiming that he wanted "actions, not words" and yet his own activities are words, trips to the coast to talk to people, press conferences to talk to people....just a lot of talk, which people are not buying. Residents also want action, not talk. BP should be castrated. They should certainly be forced to pay every penny this catastrophe will cost...and then some. I think Obama will use this tragedy to push his own agendas, like cap and trade. He will not let it go to waste, personally, but will use it to his own advantage.
The question people should be asking is...why does BP or anyone have to drill in mile deep water, where dealing with this type of situation is so difficult? No one will address that, though, because it involves the EPA.
George Bush can thank his lucky stars that he is not president through this. if he were, he would have already been dipped in that same oil, covered with feathers and set on fire. You would see exactly the opposite of the pass Obama is getting....believe it.
A girl I went to high school with just had her interview posted in the Gold Coast Chronicle. There is a lot of sense in it, I believe..
By Cheryl Tracy
June 14, 2010
I recently interviewed a friend of mine who is with the EPA, his name is Robert Hodam.
I asked him what he thought about the British Petroleum oil spill. He gave me permission to share this information with you.
Tracy: What is your job with Cal. EPA?
Hodam: My current job at Cal EPA requires me to do âfate and transportâ analysis of gasoline and diesel spills prior to cleanup.
We can predict where a spill will go, the chemical composition when it gets there, the aquatic toxicology of that composition, and the best method of cleanup given that composition.
It is possible to describe petroleum (crude oil, gasoline, and diesel) spills by two criteria: aesthetic and toxic; how it looks and smells and how it affects the health of humans and other organisms.
The subjective aesthetics of oil spills is repulsive to almost everyone. Most people are appalled by the âchemicalâ smell and nasty sticky appearance of petroleum spills (odd since oil is the most organic of Mother Natureâs chemicals â petroleum is, after all, not man-made.
For that matter both gasoline and diesel occur naturally in many oil deposits.
Therefore one objective of spill âcleanupâ is reducing the opportunity for humans to come into contact with the spill on black oily beaches.
Keep the oil underground or underwater.
Dispersants are frequently used for this purpose, keeping oil below the surface of water. Limiting offshore drilling to 25-50 miles is another approach.
The probability of oil traveling such a distance, reaching the shore, and becoming visible is much less.
Toxicity, however, is more objective. Toxicity is always a function of dose and organism.
Of course, petroleum is not toxic to all organisms, certain bacteria thrive eating natural leaks of petroleum, and those organisms are currently blooming rapidly in the warm water of the Gulf producing the long red emulsions seen in aerial photos of the oil slick.
Therefore one objective of the cleanup is to keep the oil at sea as long as possible to allow bacteria to consume as much of the dense oil as possible and to allow the volatile fractions to evaporate.
The rate, of both bacterial bloom and evaporation, increases with water temperature.
Given enough time Mother Nature will dispose of all of the leaked oil â so how long is long enough?
The majority of pure gasoline or diesel will be consumed or evaporated within weeks or months of a spill in warm water. The longer one can keep the oil at sea, the less will be left to come ashore.
The longer the oil stays at sea also allows it to disperse. Dispersion (dilution) lowers the effective dose to less toxic levels.
The US EPS measures aquatic toxicity against several organisms: algae, âwater fleasâ, bacteria, âfathead minnowsâ, smelt, and abalone.
The benchmarks are âobservable effectsâ, reproductive effects, growth effects, and mortality.
With some chemicals algae may be adversely affected, while abalone may show no adverse effects at the same dose.
Abalone may stop growing, while humans show no effect at the same dose, etc.
All organisms in nature have been subjected to naturally occurring oil leaks and ocean spills since the beginning of time.
Over millions of years all existing organisms have evolved being subjected to water contaminated with naturally occurring petroleum chemicals such as benzene, toluene, xylem, and ethylene.
To some extent they are already adapted to drinking water containing benzene.
Marine mega fauna such as pelicans most frequently suffer mortality from hypothermia or drowning rather than toxicity per se.
Gruesome no doubt, but the cure is hand cleaning, here I think Obamaâs cleanup effort appears to have failed.
Relatively little oil has washed ashore in the Gulf compared to the Exxon Valdez, yet the cleaning of birds appears to be ineffective. With relatively few birds affected there is no excuse for any of them drowning?
The big toxicity question is whether the water fleas that eat the oil-eating bacteria thrive, if they do then the threat to shrimp will be limited to those areas where the oil is consumed most rapidly and thus reducing the oxygen levels so that oysters and shrimp suffocate.
I would guess oysters will be most affected because they will be in shallower water with limited mixing than shrimp â and they are immotile (they canât swim to less contaminated high-oxygen water).
Tracy: Why in the world hasnât a reporter in the mainstream media interviewed someone knowledgeable and relayed this information to the general public?
It would make a great difference in attitudes to have a slight understanding of some facts.
Hodam: Good question, this knowledge is certainly no secret. Everything I just told you is in federal EPA publications.
There are 20 people in my group at CALEPA who do site assessment and cleanup of gasoline/diesel leaks every day (we have fresh leaks daily.
All 50 states have such a program; the federal EPA has a petroleum product cleanup program that supports the state programs.
Typically we are dealing with leaks from gas stationsâ underground tanks.
The objective there is to ensure drinking water is not contaminated by confining the plume until the bugs can eat the bits we are not able to suck out through monitoring wells).
We depend on natural âbiodegradabilityâ of gasoline and oil to do the fine particle cleanup.
We drill wells to monitor CO2 in the soil or groundwater. The greater the bacterial consumption of oil, the higher the CO2 level.
We inject oxygen to keep the contaminated environment aerobic because aerobic bacteria metabolize oil much faster.
The BP response from âday oneâ seemed oddly befuddled to me.
If I had been in charge, I would have done it as follows:
1) donât put out the fire! Burn the oil at sea, doesnât let it float ashore.
2) inject dispersant at the well head ASAP to increase the âavailabilityâ of the oil to bacteria (i.e., reduce particle size to increase the exposed surface area the bacteria can attack and make sure the dispersant used is not toxic to bacteria!)
3) boom around the leak, trying to boom along the shore is a thousand times more difficult
4) fly dispersant planes to spray the thin film that escapes the boom, the thinner the film the greater the surface area and thus the faster it can evaporate
5) recruit and station at some central point a large group (10,000+) of LEGAL workers drawn from the ranks of the unemployed to be helicopter out to places where oil is reaching shore.
6) Activate the National Guard flight detachments for helicopter transport of workers. Returning flights can bring in contaminated birds and rescue animals found in recon flights.
Fly in Army engineers with bull dozers (a Chinook can lift a D8 Caterpillar dozer) to construct temporary sand berms in shallow water along the most critical shore lines.
Last time I checked, Obama in commander-in-chief, he could make all these obvious actions happen within the US government
Tracy: Thank Mr. Hadam, we will talk again.
Source: Cheryl Tracy